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Medical Care and Treatment for Brain Injuries
Survivors of severe brain injury will require extensive medical attention. In addition to the emergency medical professionals such as trauma surgeons, attending physicians, and neurosurgeons, a brain injury patient will likely need on-going or long-term care from a variety of other medical specialists. A well-rounded team of medical professionals may include neurologists, physiatrists, primary nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, nutritionists and neuropsychologists. All of these medical professionals can make valuable contributions to the patient’s recovery and long-term rehabilitation efforts.
With a moderate to severe brain injury, a patient will probably need to spend weeks or even months in the hospital. Once the initial emergency condition is treated, the patient will be transferred to the intensive care unit, or “ICU” to be stabilized. Medical professionals in the ICU will also manage the patient’s care and prevent a further or secondary medical crisis. Once the patient is stable, they will generally be transferred to the acute care unit. In the acute care unit, the patient can receive assistance from a variety of specially trained practitioners such as physiatrists, physical therapists, and rehabilitation nurses.
Following acute hospital care, patients with severe brain injuries will likely require on-going and long-term therapy and rehabilitation to regain everyday functioning. There are a number of specialized forms of therapy and rehabilitation designed to help patients with brain injuries and other catastrophic injuries.
Physical therapy is designed to assist the patient in regaining physical movement and function. Occupational therapy can assist a patient in a variety of ways by helping them recover the skills required to participate in life-activities and gain independence. Cognitive therapy and rehabilitation may be used to help a brain injury patient cope with, and improve, any difficulties with memory, attention, planning, organization, problem-solving, behavior, and social communication. Speech therapy will also help with social communication and provide the patient with a method of healing and developing their thinking and memory processes.
Many severe brain injury patients will also require modifications to their home or work environments, vocational therapy, assistive or adaptive devices, and possibly attentive care. Accessing high quality mental health care and community or peer group support can also be very productive for brain injury victims and their families.
Caring for a brain injury victim’s long-term medical, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being will require a group effort. By engaging the medical specialists noted above, and maximizing the use of modern medical care and treatments, brain injury victims can lead active and productive lives even if they are limited in some ways by their disability.
Prompt, accurate diagnosis and treatment of a brain injury is critical to the victim’s immediate and long-term health. Aggressive therapy and rehabilitation is also very important to a patient’s prognosis.
The costs of emergency medical treatment, surgery, rehabilitation, therapy and attentive care can be enormous. The lifetime costs for a person who survives a serious traumatic brain injury can reach up to $4 million. While some assistance may be available through government programs or private health insurance, they will rarely be sufficient to meet a patient’s long-term needs. Therefore, it is crucial that a person who suffers a brain injury as the result of another party’s negligence or defective product obtain the maximum possible recovery in any post-accident lawsuit.
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